Palawan, let us all congratulate Sen. Manny Pacquiao for another convincing victory, a unanimous decision, over Adrien Broner. At 40 years old, Sen. Manny still showed the passion and skills to retain the WBA welterweight title over a younger Broner.
The Pacman Legacy lives on. We do wish that the honorable senator gets some much-needed rest and recreation as we also need him back to fight in another arena, his duty as a Senator of the Republic of the Philippines.
Congratulations, Sen. Pacquiao!
The PBA All Filipino
Here’s a summary of the first few games of the new and exciting All Filipino season of our very own Philippine Basketball Association (PBA):
* Columbian Dyip outwits the San Miguel Beermen: Yes Palawan! This came as a surprise to me as well. The underdog and whipping boys pulled the rug under the mighty Beermen last week. Behind the efforts of rookie top pick CJ Perez, who scored a team-high 26 points that game. In as far as following the footsteps of fellow San Sebastian Stag, The Beast, Calvin Abueva, the “Baby Beast” is definitely on the right track. Keep it up CJ!
* Not to be outclassed by this year’s top pick, Robert Bollick, the number 3 pick overall, also had a magnificent debut for the NorthPort Batang Pier. He posted a similar 26 point output on his debut game against the Blackwater Elite. It doesn’t look like the Batang Pier will be missing Terrence Romeo anymore. The Bolick – Stanley Pringle backcourt could be the dynamic backcourt combination of the near future.
* Is this the year of the Phoenix? As of this writing, Phoenix Pulse is leading the pack at a 3 – 0 win-loss record. What is keeping Phoenix up there? Personally, I believe they have a great balance of youth and experience, not to mention, able-bodied big men. They have LA Revilla, Calvin Abueva, Justin Chua, Matthew Wright, and Alex Mallari as their solid five. Backing them up are very capable bigs in Doug Kramer, Jason Perkins, Dave Marcelo and Jaypee Mendoza. The guard/ wing secondary line also has some quality names in JC Intal, RJ Jazul and rookie Ron Dennison. To me, coach Louie Alas’ gamble to trade for veterans Dave Marcelo and Alex Mallari was a good move.
* San Miguel over Ginebra (99- 91): in the Battle of the Giants, the San Miguel Beermen of league Most Valuable Player Junemar Fajardo, got the better of Barangay Ginebra. It was fun to see the 6’10 Fajardo go one on one against fellow behemoth 7’0 Greg Slaughter. Actually, these two teams had twin tower matchups in the Fajardo – Christian Standhardinger SMB pairing against Ginebra’s Slaughter – Japeth Aguilar combo. What a sight to watch. The two matchups actually canceled each other out on performance that night of January 20th. If you were new watching the PBA games, you would have thought that this matchup was a regular NBA game, what with the twin tower pairs dominating the paint. In the end, it was steadier guard and wing play that carried the Beermen through. Personally, and barring no major injuries along the road, it is highly probable that these two teams can meet in the finals of the All Filipino Conference this season.
Where are the power forwards?
There is something yours truly believes is missing in the local pro league nowadays…. If you were to review PBA rosters over a decade ago, almost every team would have a solid four guy. A power forward playing and defending the low post against fellow local four players or even doing the blue-collar work to guard the other teams’ import. We don’t see much of those old school bruisers in Nelson Asaytono, Freddie Abuda, Alvin Teng, or if we go to the not so far past, Jerwin Gaco or Chad Alonzo’s anymore. We don’t even see solid and made local centers outside of Slaughter and Fajardo. Do you remember the 90s where we have witnessed the rise of franchise big men with the likes of Jun Limpot, Dennis Espino, Rommel Adducul, Danny Ildefonso, Enrico Villanueva, and Kerby Raymundo?
What has changed in the landscape of college basketball that saw the decline of quality big men? If you take a look at the collegiate landscape, almost every school would have a tall foreign import manning the slot. We are not talking about the 6’6 or 6’5 type of import centers. The average height of the collegiate foreign import is just around the 6’8 or 6’9 this season. I understand that teams need to beef up their rosters to compete well in their respective collegiate leagues, but the impact of the high profile recruiting is forcing our local gigs to play the wings. Be stretch fours. This adaptation may be good for us in the international front where a lot of emphases is on shooting threes to free up the lane for the big guy, but for some reason, I personally feel that the excitement generated by the centers and power forwards of the ’90s and early 2000s was a sight to behold. Games venues are almost always packed to the rafters.
I do wish that we revive the local big man development camp initiated some time back by the Lina Group of companies when they still had their FedEx/ Air21 franchise in the PBA. Don’t get me wrong. The Batang Gilas and the Team Pilipinas program is a good model. I am talking about a supplemental camp that can supply the big man talent for the PBA and the national team. We are a basketball country full of solid players in the guard and wing positions. Let’s go ahead and shore up our local frontline. We can do this, Pilipinas!
(The writer is a senior leader of the only Business Process Outsourcing Contact Center company in Puerto Princesa. He also is the current Puerto Princesa Underground River Festival Foundation President)